Content Evolution and How to Avoid Going the Way of the Dinosaur
It has been estimated that more than 99 per cent of all life on earth that has ever existed is now extinct. From the dinosaurs and the woolly mammoth to the sabre-toothed tiger and the dodo bird, evolution and extinction are a natural part of our very existence. The same holds true within the digital world.
Some of the largest and most well-recognised sites of all time have faded away into the virtual ether of oblivion. Napster, Myspace and Megaupload are three unfortunate examples. However, there is one key difference between the digital ecosystem and the natural environment. Companies have the means to avert their own demise if they are able to evolve their content in order to resonate with changing audience demands. Conveniently enough, this concept has become known as content evolution. What does content evolution encompass? What has changed in the past decade, how can you curate such material, and where might we be headed in 2021?
Content Evolution: A Study of Natural Selection Within the Digital Domain
Content evolution is a term which actually intends to conglomerate numerous concepts into a single and succinct definition. This is why it will encompass a handful of metrics that you are likely already familiar with:
- Client engagement
- The use of social media channels
- Relevant SEO techniques
- Other forms of embedded media
- The production of meaningful and high-quality material
- Storytelling as opposed to simply regurgitating statistics
The key is to possess the ability to create an amalgam of the variables mentioned above in order to remain relevant to the reader in question. In order to better appreciate this observation, it is a good idea to take a quick look at the past.
How Has Content Evolved Over the Previous Ten Years?
Some experts have argued that the first example of content marketing in the modern sense can actually be traced back to a collection of JELLO-O recipes from 1904. While the medium was obviously much different (printed stationery alone), the goal was simple. This content was intended to provide readers with viable information while simultaneously promoting the unique aspects of the brand itself. Considering the fact that JELLO-O is still the most well-known gelatin producer in the world, they must have gotten something right.
Let us now fast-forward to the early 2000s. Content marketing has largely evolved thanks to the increasing role of the digital domain. While HTML requirements and Google algorithms naturally come into play, we will instead focus upon the material itself and how it relates to the end-user. During the halcyon days of digital marketing, bigger was better. Even small enterprises would create rather generic texts in order to cater to a massive audience. The main issue here is that such material lacked any real sense of personality or diversity. As the Internet community became more segmented thanks to a growing number of users, it was necessary to create unique articles in order to cater to a niche demographic. This leads us directly into the next section.
A Look at the Core Tenets of Content Evolution
Evolution can be defined (in a very broad sense) as an organism changing its habits or structure based around the external environment. When we translate this observation into the digital domain, there are several steps which content creators will need to embrace:
- Identifying the target audience.
- Writing material that is meaningful and useful to the reader.
- Flavouring this content with other media such as images, videos and infographics.
- Finding a bespoke balance between product promotions and empathising with the reader.
Evolution is also a very proactive process. This is another way of saying that the notion of “evergreen” material is not as relevant as it once was. Companies should continually analyse their performance statistics in order to determine if and when any changes need to be made. After all, content that could have resounded with readers in the past might already have reached its expiration date.
This is just as much of a mindset as a technical process. Flexible content creation should strive to answer a handful of questions such as:
- Why are you creating this content and what is the ultimate goal?
- Have your competitors posted similar material and if so, how has it performed?
- What sites will be used to distribute this content?
- What KPIs (key performance indicators) are the most important?
If you are able to clarify these questions, you will have placed yourself in the correct position to begin the actual process.
Content Marketing Versus Content Experience
Another recent trend which we have witnessed in relation to content evolution has been referred to as the “content experience”. Uberflip CMO Randy Frisch brought this to the attention of his readers via a single LinkedIn blog post. He pointed out a common mistake made by countless marketing professionals. While they spend a great deal of time creating targeted content, relatively little effort is devoted to how this material is delivered to the reader.
This is another way of stating that there is a massive difference between curating good content and placing it within a context that the reader will appreciate. Two important statistics will serve to reinforce his viewpoint. In a 2019 study devoted to B2B marketing research, 56 per cent of the companies surveyed stated that they had increased their spending on advertising campaigns. However, a mere 39 per cent of this same group had a strategy in place in order to enhance the experience of the end-user.
The ultimate goal of a content experience specialist involves two tasks:
- To create high-quality material.
- To appreciate and to map out where this content will be published and which audiences it will appeal to the most.
While these approaches may appear to be rather simple at first glance, countless businesses fail to develop a flexible plan that enables their content (and the associated strategies) to evolve as the needs of their customers change. This brings us to the crux of our article. How can you evolve your content so that it will be able to produce powerful results?
Creating Evolved and Informed Content
Now that we have a grasp of how and why content evolution should become a central tenet of any successful marketing strategy, the next question involves what steps you can take in order to leverage its benefits. It is normally best to follow a general step-by-step framework in order to achieve viable results:
- Creating the content itself.
- Organising the content based off of your client base.
- Customising the material in relation to customer preferences.
- Distributing this content across numerous targeted channels.
- Collating and analysing the results in order to appreciate if any changes need to be made.
While each of these steps is obviously important, perhaps the most critical involves your ability to curate personalised content. How can this be achieved? Of course, general research is important. This normally includes metrics such as which posts have received the most interest, likes and shares. It may also revolve around direct feedback from the readers themselves (a common tactic within social media circles). However, such information may not be sufficient.
You may also choose to employ other strategies such as testing out a piece of material on a small proportion of your readers so that you can better understand if any modifications may be required before the information is distributed to a larger audience. However, personalised content will primarily involve understanding more traditional sources of information such as standard marketing analytics. To put it simply, you can never expect to “go with the flow” if you are unaware of where this flow may be headed.
It is just as prudent to remember that evolution involves adaptation. Even the most successful content marketing campaigns should be discussed, scrutinised and reevaluated on a regular basis. This type of forward-thinking will allow you to know if any changes need to be made and perhaps more importantly, to accurately anticipate what your audience may gravitate towards in the future.
Where is the World of Evolved Content Marketing Headed?
Perhaps the most pivotal takeaway point in reference to content evolution is the ability to combine relevant information with client-centred content. As the professionals at TechTarget point out, this approach can be defined as:
“The process of translating data analyses into layman’s terms in order to influence a business decision or action.”
In some ways, this method can be envisioned as a forever-swinging pendulum. One side is influenced by raw data and statistics. The other is associated with engaging content that is able to reverberate with your target audience so that their interest is piqued. This brings us to the final question. How might content curation further evolve, and are there any trends to utilise at present in order to prepare for what the future has in store?
One logical conclusion that we can draw involves the increased prevalence of video marketing. Indeed, it has been found that 85 per cent of businesses consider videos to represent an integral portion of their advertising campaigns. While this material can be placed within a standard post, it may also be used to increase your presence within traditional social media circles as well as emerging channels such as TikTok (especially if you are catering to a younger audience).
Another trend expected to gain pace involves the sheer number of mobile devices. In fact, recent findings collated by Statista found that the volume of mobile Internet traffic is expected to experience an increase of up to 700 per cent by 2022 when compared to data released in 2017. So, mobile-friendly content is essential in order to effectively target this undeniably massive audience. Clear video snippets, blogs that are easy to navigate and long-form content should therefore come into play.
It is also likely that future Google algorithms will begin to focus upon client-first content that is much more purposeful and able to empathise with the reader in question.
This will ultimately determine your rankings within a search engine results page, so such metrics need to be taken seriously at the moment. Similar to past algorithms rolled out by this search giant, we should likewise expect that these guidelines will be tweaked and modified when necessary. So, you should centre your efforts around developing a more flexible strategy.
Constantly Embracing Forward Momentum
We can now see that content evolution must become an intrinsic portion of your overall marketing strategy. This is why your future projects should focus more on the audience as opposed to merely highlighting the main benefits of a specific product or service. Of course, success will also depend upon your ability to devote time and effort in order to get to know your customers. This is the only way that you will be able to fully appreciate what it is that they are looking for.
Textbroker can help to polish every facet of your content creation strategy so that nothing is left to chance. If you are hoping to remain one step ahead of the competition, our experts will be more than happy to help. In terms of natural selection within the digital domain, it pays to be a winner.
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About our authorRon is a prolific author who regularly contributes to on-site blog posts. His passion for creativity combined with a client-centred approach has brought him a significant amount of success within this competitive marketplace. Writing for Textbroker since 2012, his hobbies include martial arts and bodybuilding.